Guy Ritchie might make his dollar these days by giving heroes of legend a Cockney-geezer makeover, but flash back 20 years and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels felt like the arrival of an exciting and innovative new talent.
The blackly comic 1998 crime film was a game-changer, and its spiritual sequel, 2000's Snatch, was a smart, funny and stylish caper that was actually *whisper it* even better than its predecessor.
But while it's a bit of a diamond – pun fully intended – Snatch has never quite got the credit it deserves, often dismissed as a weak imitation of Ritchie's debut. So giving it another go-around isn't a terrible idea on paper – certainly, it's a more intriguing proposition than the attempt to recreate Lock, Stock for telly ever was.
Snatch: The TV Series – available on Crackle, a sort of low-rent Netflix – isn't doomed to failure. But fail it does, because while at points it works hard to mimic the original film, at others it totally misses what made Ritchie's flick work.
The plot of the first episode is almost identical to that of the movie – a boxing promoter encourages his fighter to take a fall, part of a plan to pay a debt to an unhinged crime boss, only for the arrangement to land them both in even more trouble.
Even chunks of dialogue are copied and pasted ("He goes down in the fourth!") and easily the best thing about the show is how authentically it mimics Ritchie's visual style – rapid-fire editing, snappy and brutal action, jump-cuts and montages.
But it's far less successful in capturing his coarse, cheeky humour. There's the odd smart line ("Where are you going?" "To dip my fingers in the family coffers… so you can remain in possession of all of yours.") but for the most part, it's a script populated by broad characters lacking in any real wit.
That's unfortunate. What's intentional – and utterly baffling – is that this Saff-East Lahndan is populated not by hardened gangsters but by youths with raging hormones and daddy issues. The decision to cast almost exclusively 20-somethings, plus what's clearly a limited budget, gives the whole thing a studenty feel – like if you and your sixth-form mates had gone out and filmed a Snatch fan film over the summer.
Ritchie's film featured a genuinely charismatic performance from Jason Statham as Turkish, boxing-promoter in over his head, before he made lunk-headed action his sole pursuit. Luke Pasqualino as boxing-promoter-in-over-his-head Albert is a poor substitute, faking a strained Cock-er-ney accent – and, having apparently inherited Statham's old wardrobe, looking like a boy in his Dad's clothes.
Pasqualino's accent work is far from the worst on offer, though. That dubious honour goes to Ed Westwick (born in Stevenage, folks), hopelessly miscast as an unstable Cuban-American crime boss and sounding like Tony Montana with marbles in his mouth.
As foppish Charlie Cavendish, Rupert Grint – yes, actual Ron Weasley – does his best, delivering an energetic turn. But he's playing a character so hopelessly cartoonish that his performance can't help but end up feeling affected.
Nowhere in this Snatch is there a Statham, a Stephen Graham or a Lennie James. Not even a Mike Reid (though, ironically, one unexpected highlight is Marc Bannerman – yes, Gianni from EastEnders – as a fearsome loan shark).
Snatch won't win over any fans of the original film – and with its hot young cast and rehash of the movie's plot, seems to be aiming for an entirely new audience. But even without comparisons to the film it's hard to imagine anyone being won over by a tale of London bad boys that's more Only Fools than Long Good Friday.
Playing us out is a 2013 track by London rapper Giggs. "Is it gangsta?" it asks, again and again, over the closing credits. When it comes to small-screen Snatch, the answer is a firm no.
You Might Also Like
- Coronation Street: 29 new spoiler pictures as Sarah discovers Bethany's secret and Maria is released from prison
- EastEnders: 18 new spoiler pictures as Max arouses Lauren's suspicions and Bex struggles to move on
- Hollyoaks: 13 new spoiler pictures for Sienna's baby twist, Bart's threats and Ellie's secret unravelling